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Their seventh year was filled with surprises. Remus Lupin was not on speaking terms with two of his best friends. Severus knew because now Lupin trailed after Lily. She, the bleeding heart that she was took him in and now he was part of his select group of friends as Lily called it. Severus spent the whole summer break with Lils and his family. Mum had taken to visit Mrs. Potter, baby Gus in tow. Those days it was up to Tobias and him to make dinner. Severus was an excellent Potions master and could cook. His father appeared to be adept too. Tobias would make an effort and try to engage Severus who would rarely strike conversation. He corresponded with Remus. It was a shift. Wolfbane had been invented that late June and Severus had talked Eileen into buying the ingredients. He made it and owled it to Remus who had been so grateful he tried to pay him. Severus had not been aware that the werewolf was estranged from his long time friends. Lily kissed him that day when he commented he had brewed the potion for Remus. It had been a sticky kiss, they had eaten strawberries and she kissed him like she wanted something more. They had not spoken about the kiss but it was there, like an invisible pull.
Marlene had taken their failed relationship in stride. They spoke that night when she hugged him. "I'll be here Severus. I won't pressure you; maybe one day you could love me like you love Lily. I will wait Sev. I have time." She smiled, a sweet full of promises smile and became his friend. Lily did not take Marlene's presence that well but he made a rather convincing case. She had been the one to accuse him of being a recluse. With Narcissa and Magnolia married and were ensconced in their mansions like the pureblood witches they were he had no friends but Lily and Marlene. He would not count Remus no matter how much time they spent together now. The ravenclaw had not initiated anything with him and that seemed to appease Lily somewhat.
Time seemed to fly by. Augustus turned one without fuss. Dorea Potter and Charlus Potter became like grandparents to the little boy. Mum visited the elderly couple every weekend. Tobias declined politely every time. Severus used legilimency and discovered a warped sense of loyalty. Those people were the parents of the little arrogant prick who tormented his child for six years. Severus choked some unwanted feelings and left the house to go with Lils to a screening of the Godfather. Lily Evans was a fan of action films.
Eileen cried for weeks when the Potters died. It was after Gus turned one. Dorea died of a complication of dragon pox and Charlus Potter died of sadness or so mum said. Severus did not attend the funeral but his parents did. James Potter was devastated as was Sirius Black. Remus forgave them and they were once again the marauders. Severus did not mind. Remus was a decent fellow. It was bound to happen. They kept their friendship.
Severus remembered that winter break. Severus met Vernon Dursley, a dull bloke during Petunia's engagement party. He was muggle and did not know anything about magic. Petunia begged Lily to behave like a normal person. She did but was deeply hurt when Tuney refused to have her as bridesmaid for the wedding. She told her fiancée that her sister was troubled. Harry and Rose Evans of course did not know about the lies their eldest daughter told. Lily put on a brave face but crumpled when Dursley and his sister left.
Petunia married and the Potters died. It was life. Petunia seemed glad to leave Manchester for Surrey where her new husband worked. The man remained oblivious to what Lily was. His best friend seemed resigned to the fact that Tuney and her would never have a close sisterly relationship. She was glad that her sister was happy and well. Rose and Harry were happy for their daughters who were happy with their choices.
Once they were back at Hogwarts he offered his condolences to a distraught Potter. For the first time he spoke to James without rancor. "I am sorry for your loss Potter. Your parents were very decent and mother says they were always kind to her." James nodded and walked away. Lily became Head Girl while Remus was appointed Head Boy. Severus felt real pain when in late February Lily started dating James Potter.
After his parent's death James Potter seemed to mature and his influence pored over to Black who seemed content with only sneering at him. The news of James and Lily dating did not take him by surprise. It happened in the same way last time. Potter had been fragile and Lily, the sweet person that she was had nursed him back to happiness. It was a whirlwind courtship really, not two years later they were married and had Harry on the way.
Severus got raging drunk that night after Lily told him that she was seeing Potter. They were by their windowsill when Lily told him. He had known since that morning. Marlene let him know in the most delicate way that she could. "I don't want you to be taken by surprise." She said and gave him one of those hugs that made him almost believe that that he could love her.
They were sitting. "I am James's girlfriend." She said with a quiet voice. "I know." He said in the same quiet voice.
"I thought you should know. You are my best friend and I know you two do not have the best history. I don't want to lose you." She said with tears in her eyes. Severus looked up and saw her tear streaked face. He caressed her cheek. "You could never lose me. We will always be friends remember. Always." He rested his forehead against hers. He felt as if his heart was breaking in a million pieces.
If he left her then it would look as if he was rejecting her. He stayed with her. Held her as he had held her countless times since he got back to this timeline. Severus smiled bitterly; he should consider himself lucky to have had so many hugs, those handfuls of kisses and all those countless smiles, and looks. "I never thought you would go out with him."
"He's changed. He's really thoughtful and losing his parents was a hard blow on him." Lily explained and exalted James's qualities. He was James now and will remain James forever now. No more Potter or Toerag.
Severus listened and repeated like a mantra. "It's supposed to be this way. She is Potter's. If that changes the premises of the whole war changes, she will have Harry. She will live and I will help her and Harry.
They were quiet for a while until Severus deemed enough time had passed so he could leave and lick his wounds, safe and away from her. She did not look so happy when they parted.
He went back to his dorm and ordered a house-elf to bring him fire-whisky. He locked and placed charms around his bed and drank. He wanted to curse Potter into oblivion and forget about the prophecy, fixed points in time and the wizarding world.
The world did not stop because Potter and Lily dated. Life continued and the seventh years were in a hurry to learn everything for their N.E.W.T.S. Potter and Black wanted to become aurors. Remus experienced bouts of anxiety. He was not sure whether anyone would employ him because of his condition. Marlene wanted to be a Healer while Lily was not sure she wanted to be an Auror or something else. This lifetime he would make sure she did all she wanted to do. Severus was sure of his decision; he would get his degree in potions. It hadn't changed; contrary to popular belief Potions had not been a second choice. He loved potions and research and he would continue to do so.
All of them learned to disapparate by May; even Potter and Black who sought private classes during Easter break. Dumbledore allowed it because of the increasing disappearances and murders. It was mounting, the casualties, the horror. They first war started to peak under their gazes. Their DADA instructor was fairly competent and as a final lesson decided to review or in some cases teach the Patronus charm.
Gryffindors and Slytherins practiced under the witch's watchful eyes. Sirius was the first to conjure a big dog. Remus smiled sheepishly when a silver wolf erupted from his wand. Pettigrew could not seem to get the incantation right. Lily tried unsuccessfully to conjure one. Severus watched as a few of his Slytherin classmates tried to shoot wisps of silver mist. Bole was able to produce a hare while Nott managed to produce a silver hawk.
Potter's half formed stag tried to take form but he could not manage to keep it from dissolving into thin air.
Severus concentrated in Lily's face and her smile. He remembered the time they went to the local pool when they were ten and they had those lemon pops. He smiled at the memory and conjured the patronus. His silver doe pranced around the room, beautiful, like an old friend it came to greet him. Lily smiled in awe when the creature circled her. She said the incantation and a silver doe appeared too. Their does pranced and played around. Potter wore a scowl on his face for the rest of the day. Lily ignored his childish attitude.
Their exams took place a week before the end of the year. All seventh years without excuse congregated in the library. Even Mulciber read his notes about transfigurations. Severus and Remus practiced defensive spells while Black and Lily recited steps for complex potions. Potter and Marlene swapped charms notes while Pettigrew nervously paced around with his beady eyes.
They had their exams. It was such a relief to finally finish the grueling exam sessions that no one cared in which house they were. The marauders, Lily, Marlene and him were in an abandoned classroom when Lils conjured a radio. "It won't work." Severus said with a tired voice he sat on the floor. Marlene next to him, leaning, sleepy; Black shot him looks of pure hatred from across the room. He and Pettigrew sat on a table. Potter had his head on Lil's lap. Remus sprawled on the floor asleep. Severus lit a cigarette; a vice that followed him into another lifetime it seemed. Lily smiled and asked him for one.
"You can't. It's bad for you." he sneered at her. She frowned and grabbed one from his hands. She lit it up. Remus who had woken up and had his own stash and pulled one too. The purebloods were used to seeing their friends with cigarettes now. Black had picked the habit but refused to smoke in front of Severus since he had introduced them to their group.
Lily tweaked and did a complex wand movement and "voilà" It had been years since he heard that song. "Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light." Severus forgot that he was amongst enemies and sang. He relaxed and sang to The Police's Roxanne.Lils and Remus sang along with him.
Lupin and him could pull it off but Lils was terrible. He laughed at her. "You sing horribly." He guffawed. She giggled and punched him on the arm. Potter sat up and saw with angry eyes as she rested her head on his shoulder. She kept switching stations. They heard Hotel California, some ABBA and Satisfaction. Black liked that one. She finally smiled. Severus leaned back and heard the beginning of Stairway to Heaven. They sang in small voices. He was utterly relaxed.
"That was beautiful Sev. What is it?" Marlene asked with a serene smile. "Stairway to Heaven" By Led Zeppelin." He answered.
Lily went back to Potter. Black glared at him. Pettigrew scurried away and Lupin claimed exhaustion. The moment was broken. It was to be the last time all of them relaxed in a very long time. One of them would not be alive once they reached London in two weeks.